Online bullying intensifies the attacks against women

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:


It’s a point that I’ve been making for much of the last year about women in tech and Silicon Valley. We are in a strange place where there is both more opportunity for women than ever before, but also more disgusting and overt hate, whether it’s from anonymous trolls or senior executives and founders of the largest most powerful companies in the Valley. Worse are the excuses the industry makes for those in power, whether they’re justifications that being an asshole is just part of winning — cue the reference to Steve Jobs — or that young founders are just going through a misogynistic “phase” which will soon be dealt with (read: covered up) by media handlers.

The Post article explains that the demand for women to write about their experiences as women has never been greater, but neither has the toll for doing so. The first part of that is certainly a positive development. A mainstream audience has far less appetite for witnessing and accepting the bullying of women than it did ten years ago. When I joined TechCrunch there was an online poll predicting how long I’d last because abusive, sexually aggressive commenters had driven so many other women from the site with their attacks. Happily, that’s no longer an accepted expectation of writing about iPhones online.

And yet, where gendered bullying does appear online today — be it in the form of GamerGate-style campaigns or Twitter mobs or executives at Uber — it’s far more extreme and more shocking, often taking the form of specific and direct threats against the women targeted. While that escalation horrifies people who might not have thought sexism was really a problem in , it also creates, and then emboldens, a tribe of people who genuinely hate women and didn’t have a way to express it.

Put another way: While the extremity of this stuff has in some ways helped to drive home exactly how bad the problem is for women on the Internet, it has also been effective in driving many women to decide it’s not worth the psychological pain of continuing to speak out. And that’s before we consider the likely thousands more young women who decide they don’t want to pick the fight to begin with. It’s a victory for the bullies, even as more of the population are disgusted by the bullying.